U.S. Marines Stand Fast at JWT

J. Walter Thompson’s victory in the review for the U.S. Marine Corps’ account was built upon proven results and a new strategic direction.

The Atlanta shop defeated two undisclosed contenders last week to retain the estimated $200 million, five-year account, sources said.

The Marine Corps has been with JWT since 1946.

“We’ve won eight Effies in the last seven years and met our recruiting goals,” said JWT chief executive officer Jeff White. “Other services have not.”

Sources said JWT’s pitch team—White, executive cd Scott Nelson, account planner Randy Shepherd, senior account manager Jay Cronin and JWT Worldwide CEO Peter Schweitzer—convinced review board members at the Marines recruiting headquarters in Quantico, Va., that it was time to expand enlistment efforts beyond the “18-year-old target audience.”

The agency will continue to create the client’s signature “big, heavy-hitting” advertising—like “Rite of Passage” and this year’s 60-second “The Climb” television spots. It will also retain “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” slogan. Upcoming efforts will target “influencers” such as veterans, coaches, teachers, counselors and parents.

“Our work will ad-dress the demands of the millennial generation—young folks who, more than previous generations, have closer relationships with their parents and other role models,” said White. “We view recruiting them as a co-purchasing decision.”

An upcoming campaign, “Mar-ines for life,” will go beyond the TV ads to target veterans through the Internet, alumni publications and other media. The theme: “You never lost your honor. You never lost your courage. You only lost touch.”

Another effort (working title: “Proud Parents”) will focus on family members, capitalizing on the Corps’ long tradition of father-to-son enlistments.

“We’re mounting a holistic effort to convince these influencers that the Marine Corps is a rewarding experience and a good life choice,” said Nelson.

In the pitch, which consisted of extensive written and oral presentations covering strategic, creative and media approaches, JWT was able to overcome the defection, earlier this year, of senior partner and management director Rob Cherof. Cherof, who supervised the Marines account, joined crosstown BBDO. That move led to rumors that BBDO would compete for the business.